Our Experience with Baby Led Weaning
Rory is officially nine months old (I swear this has been the fastest time of my life!) and she is a fantastic eater. The girl will eat anything we put in front of her and gobbles it up in no time. Since she was about six and a half months old or so, we’ve used Baby Led Weaning and we’ve had a great experience with it.
Whenever I show Rory eating on Instagram stories – usually huge chunks of watermelon – I’m always bombarded with questions about what we feed her, when we started, questions about her high chair, spoons, etc. I figured I needed an entire blog post dedicated to all things Rory and food. (Don’t worry, we’ll be back to regular DIY programming tomorrow.)
But before I get into the details, I need to say that I am obviously not a pediatrician or nutritionist. I am only sharing our experience and the resources we’ve used to feed our daughter. This is what has worked for us. Talk to your pediatrician if you have specific questions and check out the Baby Led Weaning resources, which are all created by professionals, at the bottom of the post. Also, Rory’s meals are in addition to her daily bottles. She still gets a majority of her daily nutrition from formula.
The Green Light to Start Food
At our four-month doctor’s appointment, our pediatrician told us we could start feeding Rory food. I remember leaving that appointment feeling so excited, yet also unsure as to where to begin. At the time, Rory wasn’t yet sitting up on her own and was too small for our high chair. We decided to use our Baby Björn bouncer for all of her meals and started with the traditional pureed baby food.
From the start, it was really fun! We used the old-school method of giving Rory one new food every two to three days, starting with pureed apples, green beans, bananas, etc. We quickly worked our way through all of those traditional purees and Finn found this place online called Yumi where they make more “exotic” combinations. We decided to give it a try and soon we had fresh jars delivered weekly. This was nice because we had more variety, but we were still giving her only purees.
What is Baby Led Weaning?
As Rory was approaching six months, I started to wonder what would happen next. How does a baby go from slurping pureed green beans to gumming actual green beans? It was at that time that I was introduced to the concept of Baby Led Weaning.
Put simply, Baby Led Weaning = self-feeding. The baby feeds herself finger foods instead of having a parent spoon-feed her. This means that babies typically bypass traditional baby food and eat what the family eats, with some modifications. This fosters independence, helps the baby practice oral and motor skills, and it has been shown to reduce the likelihood of having a “picky eater” as your baby grows up.
And now the biggest question of them all…”What about choking?!” Current research shows that babies who are started on solids are no more likely to choke on food than babies who are spoon-fed. Oh, and another question I get…”What if your baby doesn’t have teeth?” It’s a misconception that babies need teeth to eat. Molars are the teeth you use to chew and those often don’t come in until a baby is one year old or older. Babies’ gums are actually incredibly powerful and they’re able to grind food easily. Rory still doesn’t have any teeth, yet she eats all.the.things!
I ended up taking this course from Feeding Littles that introduced me to Baby Led Weaning. It was incredibly helpful and gave me a lot of confidence to give it a try with Rory. From safety, to grocery store lists, to meal plans, it helped me go in with a plan. I took the course as we were finishing up the kitchen, so I would be prepared once our kitchen was back and we could start cooking again!
Starting with Allergenic Foods
So I took the course, we were cooking again, and it was finally time to dive in. We started by making our way through the common food allergens. With the BLW way, the recommendation of introducing a common food, like apples, and then waiting two to three days to introduce another is outdated. Instead, they suggest introducing the eight common allergenic foods (peanuts, tree nuts, soy, egg, dairy, wheat, shellfish, and finned fish) as close to six months as possible to see if baby has a reaction.
We slowly made our way through the list and luckily Rory tolerated them all well. Once we were through, we pretty much started feeding her anything and everything!
Rory’s Reaction to BLW
By about six and a half months, Rory was eating a wide variety of foods and she started to love feeding herself. In fact, she insisted on holding the spoon and she is now a pro at feeding herself.
I’m not gonna lie, giving your child a strip of chicken, or any large food, can be terrifying at first. Those first few weeks I wanted to look away because I would get nervous about choking. But Rory caught on quickly and as she got the hang of it, our confidence grew. My parents are another thing, though. Ha! My mom is still soooo nervous with BLW and hates seeing Rory with a big piece of food in her mouth, but just as she explained in this post, she follows our rules and goes with it. Plus, we all agree that Rory is pretty adorable eating whatever we’re eating.
Since starting BLW, Rory’s fine motor skills have skyrocketed. Starting at around seven and a half months, she could easily use her pincer grasp to pick up individual cheerios and and we are able to make pieces smaller because she can easily pick them up and get them in her mouth.
Mealtimes have become a lot of fun and we try our best to have as many meals together as a family as we can. (We’re all home anyway!) Rory watches us and really enjoys herself. It’s so freakin’ cute. I also feel like Finn and I are both eating better because we’re forced to do meal planning and we can’t rely on protein bars and trail mix for survival, like we often used to do.
The one downside is the mess. When a baby feeds herself, things are bound to get messy! In fact, we usually just strip Rory down to a diaper because her sleeves and the necklines of her shirts all get covered in food. (We’ve since learned from that photo above when those stains were not coming out!) There is usually food in her hair, all over the ground, and really…everywhere. But it’s sooooo worth it. We’ll take the mess for a happy girl who loves to eat!
Doing Things Differently
If I had to do it all over again, I would have waited until Rory was six months old and just started with Baby Led Weaning. Sure, it was fun giving Rory purees at four months, but I don’t really think she, or I, was ready. Instead, I would have started at six months with one to two meals a day, introducing the allergens from the start. If we’re lucky enough to have another baby someday, that will be my plan.
Rory’s Go-To Foods
Again, I’m not a nutritionist, but here are some of the go-to things we make for Rory every day.
- Breakfast: Buttered toast, waffles, greek yogurt with peanut butter and berries, omelets, fried egg strips, oatmeal, egg and veggie muffins.
- Lunch & Dinner: Grilled salmon, roasted broccoli and cauliflower, pasta, meatballs, lasagna, grilled chicken, sliced veggie burgers, quinoa burgers, crab cakes, asparagus, green beans, steamed zucchini and yellow squash.
- Easy Snacks: String cheese, mozzarella cheese, cheerios, yogurt drops, avocados, bananas, watermelon, berries.
You can check out this blog post with details on how Finn preps all of this food for Rory for the week.
Our Feeding Supplies
Below are some of the items we use daily when we are feeding Rory. You can also find most of these items in the “Baby Led Weaning Gear” category of my Amazon storefront.
- Bibs: These are great and they catch so much food!
- Plates: We have this one and I like the individual compartments for each food group.
- Bowls: These are nice because they suction right to the tray.
- Spoons: We’ve tried a variety of spoons including these and these. Rory likes them all.
My Favorite Baby Led Weaning Resources
- Feeding Littles: This is the course I took and loved.
- Solid Starts: This is an amazing website with free resources that I use weekly. They have a food database so you can type in any common whole food and find out how to cut it to serve your baby, based on their age. It’s a lifesaver when we’re meal planning for the week.
- Instagram Follow: Here are a few accounts I follow on Instagram. I like them because I can pick up a new tip everyday just as I’m scrolling Instagram.
Our Messy, But Oh So Cute, Little Girl
So there you have it…a look at Rory’s journey with Baby Led Weaning. I know it’s not for everybody, but we are having a wonderful time with this method of eating. And the best part? Rory is happy and thriving!
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.